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Absorbing Climate Change Impacts in #Uganda| Adaptation Strategy



The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction have complementary objectives and actions that all relate to climate change adaptation.

Climate change directly affects many aspects of humanity like food stability, global warming, Green House Gas emission, agriculture, aquatic life and many others but it’s also affected by many natural and human factors.

Small changes in climate may lead to significant increase in risks.




Climate Change adaptation actions should begin by addressing present risks and vulnerabilities and restoring the natural resource base and ecosystem services, on which the agriculture and other sectors depend.

The greater frequency of dry spells and droughts is one of the most significant climate change impacts for agriculture and food security.

 The evaluation of climate change adaptation options and strategies requires an estimation of the related benefits and costs.

Therefore, there is a need to rank and prioritize climate change adaptation options.

Cost Benefit Analysis provides a framework to identify, quantify, and if possible, monetize all impacts of a project or policy (including their environmental impacts.  This process enables the comparison of losses and gains of a project or a policy using a measurement that all stakeholders can relate to – generally monetary terms.

Climate change is largely impacted by land allocation and use.


Many strategies need to be implemented but below is a summary of the key proposals.

  1. Investing in affordable and clean energy as a means to adapt to climate change in Uganda
  2. Improved technology and climate information availability/accessibility  as an adaptation strategy
  3. Stakeholder engagement  and effective dissemination of data and information
  4. Preserving and protecting water bodies, wetlands, forests and vegetation
  5. Adopting a gender responsive approach


What actions do you propose?


An adaptation strategy to climate change needs to take into account factors that directly affect climate change for example deforestation, swamp reclamation, bush burning, e.t.c. The strategy also needs to consider why the practices are done and the substitutes available and finally the other SDGs & how they can be achieved together.


The SDG 3 advocates for nations ensuring that all people have access to affordable and clean energy while SDG 13 aims at ensuring that  necessary action is taken regarding the issue of climate change.

Prioritizing the availability of clean and affordable energy plays a crucial role in the adaptation to climate change.

75 percent of the people in Uganda live in rural areas and majority of the use firewood and charcoal as the main source of fuel for cooking since electricity and other sources of fuel are expensive and not available.

More than half of the households in Uganda (58 percent) cook in a building separate from the house, while about one-third (28 percent) cook outdoors. In urban areas, one in five households (22 percent) cooks indoors.

In Uganda 96 percent of households use solid fuel for cooking, in rural households at 98 percent and very common in urban households (85 percent). Wood is the main type of fuel used for cooking in rural areas (85 percent), while charcoal is the most used cooking fuel in urban areas (68 percent).

The most important measure in the energy balance of Uganda is the total consumption of 2.70 billion kwh per year, per capita is about 65kwh per person. Comparing with other countries: UK has per capita energy consumption of 2764 kwh per person, USA has 6801 kwh per son, Australia 5490 kwh per person.

There is need for the government to invest in efficient and energy conserving fuel technology like hydro electricity, petroleum, solar, LNG, renewable and nuclear energy through:

  • Subsidizing the electricity to make it affordable for all citizens.

There is need to ensure that majority of the households can afford electricity and this will be achieved through government subsidizing the electricity and also setting up new power plants.

In 2016, annual average Energy, Fuel and Utilities (EFU) inflation increased to 3.9 percent compared to 3.5 percent recorded for the year 2015 calendar year.

The rising energy costs together lack of access to the little available energy leads to the low per capita energy consumption (65.08kwh per person per year) and forces many to go for cheaper options like firewood and charcoal. Uganda is far below the world per capita energy consumption of 75 million BTU or 21,980 kwh per person, per annum.

More than half of the households in Uganda (58 percent) cook in a building separate from the house, while about one-third (28 percent) cook outdoors. In urban areas, one in five households (22 percent) cooks indoors.

Cooking and heating with solid fuels leads to high levels of indoor smoke consisting of a mix of pollutants that can increase the risk of contracting respiratory infections. Uganda is predominantly agriculture based, and the use of solid fuels is widespread. Solid fuels include charcoal, wood, straw, shrubs, grass, agricultural crops, and animal dung. In Uganda 96 percent of households use solid fuel for cooking, in rural households at 98 percent and very common in urban households (85 percent). Wood is the main type of fuel used for cooking in rural areas (85 percent), while charcoal is the most used cooking fuel in urban areas (68 percent).

The most important measure in the energy balance of Uganda is the total consumption of 2.70 billion kwh per year, per capita is about 65kwh per person. Comparing with other countries: UK has per capita energy consumption of 2764 kwh per person, USA has 6801 kwh per son, Australia 5490 kwh per person.

 Energy purchases by the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company increased by 6 percent from 3,335 GWh in 2015 to 3,535 GWh in 2016 and total number of UMEME(the company authorized by government to distribute electricity) customers increased by 24 percent from 704,637 in 2014 to 872,836 customers in 2015 but the total installed capacity of electricity power plants remained constant as in 2015.

All Rivers in Africa combined have a potential of generating approximately 300,000 megawatts of hydro electric power yet by 2020, Africa will have a total of approximately 1.3 billion people.  The United States alone which has less than 400 million people produces more than one million megawatts of electricity because of its use of more yielding technologies like nuclear, fossil fuels, petroleum and renewable energy. 

There is need to invest in clean energy with high potential to yield more electricity to replace non environmental conserving fuels like firewood hence preserve the environment (SDG 13) but at the same time promoting industrialization which helps create jobs that help reduce poverty levels (SDG 1, 8, 9,11).

  • As the country prepares to diversify the production of electricity, more finances should be invested in training all those that will be involved in the process to ensure that more energy is produced but in a safer way that will not damage the environment.
  • Offering of tax holidays for new entrants in the energy industry especially solar to enable the industry progress with less financial constraints

 The principle of “with or without” is essential for appraising adaptation options. Examining the difference between the availability of inputs and outputs with and without the project is the basic method of identifying project costs and benefits; which is different from the before and after comparison.

The financial benefit should be considered without compromising the health and environmental impact to the community. This can be done through the use of the Sustainable Development goals as a yardstick.


There is need to increase productivity and efficiency. This can be made possible through improvement of production technology and methods such as;

  • Agricultural diversification.

 Farmers may diversify their crops by choosing a combination of crops, based on the amount and type of land that they cultivate.

  • Climate Information is necessary to know and manage climate risk and needs to focus on end users first in order to identify what information they need and for what purpose. 


 The World Bank has estimated that upgrading all hydro-meteorological information production and early-warning capacity in developing countries would save an average of 23,000 lives annually and could provide between US$3 billion and US$30 billion per year as an additional economic benefit related to disaster reduction.

  • There’s need for massive investments in Agricultural drought monitoring systems with ASIS and disseminating this data to the masses involved in agricultural production so that the farmers  make informed decisions regarding sowing, harvesting and other activities.

ASIS (Agriculture Stress Index System (ASIS) can be used to detect agricultural areas with a high likelihood of drought and support the vegetation monitoring activities.  


  • Use of the Modeling System for Agricultural Impacts of Climate Change (MOSAICC) as a tool to fill information and capacity gaps by providing and building capacity for robust evidence and information.
  • Government should support and finance food processing firms and industries to ensure that food can be preserved for longer time without compromising quality hence food security.
  • There is need for a monitoring and evaluation framework based on key indicators. This can help governments and policy makers to make the connection between adaptation policies and observed outcomes.

Standard monitoring and evaluation can observe measure and document the design, inputs, implementation processes and outputs of a project.

 Impact evaluation also needs to be implemented in order to provide evidence on causal impact of a project intervention.

  • Agriculture and climate change budgeting should become a key consideration in the national budget.


More effort is necessary to sensitize the public regarding the dangers of environmental destructive human activities like deforestation, swamp reclamation, bush burning and many others.  They should be educated regarding the impact of their activities on climate change and agriculture.

The Government ought to include the natives in the climate change programs and due support out to be availed for example providing free seedlings to facilitate forestation. This will make the public know that they are part and parcel of the climate change adaptation plan.

Donor agencies, CSOs, CBOs, NGOs, the general public all need to work together with government in handling climate change related issues and the views of all parties need to be put into consideration.

Engaging the media especially channels like radio which is used by majority of Ugandans (51%) will help reach even more people.

The internet should also be used to engage the youth, policy makers and the corporate class regarding issues to do with climate change, agriculture and food security.

During 2016, the total number of fixed internet subscribers increased by 13.7 percent compared to those registered in 2015. In the same period there was a 76.6 percent increase in mobile wireless internet subscriptions up from the 29.1 percent increase in 2015. Internet penetration also increased by 51.9 percent in 2016 compared to 39.7 percent increase in 2015.

The internet is currently the most effective way to disseminate crucial and critical information to the youth and corporate class since majority of then spend a lot of their time on the internet. Social media channels like twitter should be used when delivering urgent information for example disaster warning regarding landslides, livestock or crop disease outbreak, drought warning, etc.


By 2015 Uganda had a total area of 241,550.7 square kilometers with Open water bodies covering 36,864.01 square kilometers, Wetlands cover 7,620.76 square kilometers, Land area is 197,065.91 square kilometers, agricultural land increased from 99,703.1 sq. kms in 2005 to 105,317.2 sq. kms and built up land area covered 1,360.02 square kilometers. Forest cover reduced significantly by 46.9 percent over a period of 20 years, woodlands cover declined by about 37 percent between 2005 and 2010, total forest cover declined by 27 percent between 2005 and 2010, round wood production increased by 1,587,000 tons in 2016.

There is an average decline forest cover of 5.42 percent per year.

This will be achieved through promoting tourism as a means to create jobs, fight poverty and make economic gain out of the natural resources without environmental degradation.


Climate change affects men, women, girls and boys differently and the magnitude of the impact also varies and the adaptation strategy needs to take this into account. Policies need to be drafted that ensure gender balance and equality.

 Gender-sensitive indicators need to be built into monitoring and evaluation frameworks to track whether climate change adaptation plans or projects are contributing to gender equality.

Involving women and men in the participatory, gender-sensitive development of indicators can be highly effective and meaningful in terms of monitoring of knowledge, attitude and practices as well as subtle gender-differentiated (as well as age, ability-differentiated, etc.) changes in vulnerability and resilience.




Who will take these actions?

The government of Uganda being the key policy maker and implementer will take on the major task of implementation of the different strategies and policies regarding climate change and agriculture and food security.

Key government entities necessary in the implementation of the climate change adaptation strategies include: Ministry of Gender, Labor and social development, Ministry of energy, Ministry of lands, Ministry of Finance, Ministry local governments

 NGOs Community Based Organizations and Civil Society Organizations will need to cooperate with government to be also playing a great role in supporting farmers through providing agricultural tools, equipment, seeds and advisory services. This has led to environmental conservation, improved food security and reduction of poverty.

Donor agencies and Development partners like UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, USAID, IMF, UKAID, European Union, UN Women, Development Initiatives and many others are the key sponsors of climate change financing in Uganda. They will be needed to support major programs regarding climate change, improvement of agriculture, fighting hunger and ensuring food security.

Academic institutions like Universities and others have a role to play that includes research and carrying out training in the area of climate change, agriculture modernization, improvement and mechanization, organizing workshops & training for the public regarding climate change, food security and improved agricultural practices.

National Metrological Institute will be responsible for the data gathering from our state of the art drought monitoring systems and will be in charge of releasing official records and data gathered regarding different climatic conditions and indicators all over the country.

Researchers and statisticians will help gather data and information necessary to track the progress and outcome of the strategies proposed and implemented.

Where will these actions be taken?

These actions will be taken in Uganda.

We shall prioritize the rural areas since they are the most affected by climate change and it’s adverse effects.

Majority of the working age group in rural areas rely on subsistence agriculture for survival which generates little or no revenue, contributes less to the overall development of the economy, has the greatest impact on climate change and is most affected by climate change.



In Uganda, subsistence farming is the main source of household livelihood with 69%. This shows that the economy greatly relies on agriculture and climate change directly influences people’s life. Agriculture is greatly impacted by climate change and it’s adverse effects.

According to 2014 population census figures released by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the country has a population of 34,634,650 people, a growth rate of 3.0 percent per annum.

Only 46% of urban dwellers are engaged in agricultural activities, 90% of rural households are engaged in agriculture, 75.4% engage in crop growing while 57.6 are involved in livestock farming and 66.9% were engaged in mixed farming.

Majority of the population live in rural areas with only 21.4% occupying urban centers. Also 25% of the households are found in urban centers.

Uganda is a country that heavily relies on agriculture with subsistence farming as the main source of household livelihood at 69%.

Uganda has more than half of its population below the age of 20 years leading to a high dependence burden on the few individuals in the working age group.

In 2016, 468 million tons of fish was caught in Uganda’s water bodies and a lot of this was done in an irresponsible way.


What are other key benefits?

  • Achieving food security & zero hunger. All people need to have access and availability to food of the quality and quantity they desire to achieve the SDGs.
  • Our adaptation plan that prioritizes the investment in improved technology solutions will improve people’s health while ensuring availability of energy (SDG 3).
  • Improved energy facilitates industrialization and job creation, therefore helping in the fight against poverty SDG1) while also ensuring the availability of affordable and clean energy (SDG 1,7,8,9 and 11).
  • Adopting a gender responsive approach to climate change adaptation will help achieve gender balance and equality.
  • With the proposed strategies, green house emission levels and the carbon foot print will be contained not to rise above the current level but at the same time increasing productivity and efficiency. This will help us achieve SDG 13,7,9,12,14 and15.
  • Access to improved, better and safer will be attained SDG 7 and SDG 9 without compromising SDG 13.

What are the proposal’s costs?

A lot of money will be needed at each stage of the strategy.

Some stakeholder are likely to oppose some of the strategies proposed therefore they may not be cooperative during implementation.

Much of the data available in Uganda and Africa is unreliable and in many time unavailable. This makes project implementation, monitoring and evaluation hard because we need clear and accurate data and information in order to make evidence based decisions.

Shortage of skilled personnel to handle the proposed advanced technology and systems may become a great challenge. Only 4.2% of those involved in agriculture, forestry and fisheries are skilled.

Attaining one SDG in many cases can limit the ability to achieve another e.g. offering more time to produce cash crops can enable us fight poverty (SDG 1) and create more decent life and work (SDG 8) but may limit the labor and land available to produce food crops thereby reducing food security and reducing the ability to attain SDG 2.

Key climate change adaptation actions require the involvement of women, children and the youth especially in Uganda where ratio of men to women is 95:100 and more than half of the population is below 20 years. The challenge here is that though women, children and the youth are the highest in number, they don’t participate in decision making since majority of them are just dependants and social-economically disadvantaged.

A major part of the population live in rural areas and many of them are conservative and not willing to take on new methods and the proposed technology.

Time line


  • Engaging stakeholders
  • Designing the National Adaptation Plan
  • Identifying key natural resources that need to be protected
  • Identifying sources for climate change financing
  • Adopting as gender responsive approach in handling issues including gender disaggregated data
  • Gathering data
  • Improving accessibility to data
  • Preserving and protecting water bodies, forests, wetlands, vegetation and  escalating the fight against environmental degradation
  • Considering the opportunity cost
  • Identifying key technology needs
  • Identifying key energy needs


  • Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Agricultural diversification
  • Carrying out appraisal
  • Technological transformation
  • Dissemination of data
  • Massive investment in drought monitoring systems
  • Use of the Modeling System for Agricultural Impacts of Climate Change (MOSAICC)
  • Impact evaluation
  • Investing in key technology advancement techniques
  • Investing in key energy advancement means

Related proposals

UN Climate Change E-Learning



  • Environmental and Natural Resources Management Series No. 22, FAO. 42 p. Available at          
  • UNDP
  • UN Environment